"Half of the French want it."
Translation:La metà dei francesi lo vuole.
In English, "group" is a collective noun and can be either singular or plural, as MikeLyons85 points out. Half a group shares this usage, but usually "half" of a group is plural (unless it is a "group" of only two or is referred to as an entity). The use of a singular verb is a logical fallacy, and therefore ungramatical. But in Italian "la metà" is always a singular entity, not a "count" word. English has a similar usage in mathematics: we say "half of four IS two," just Italian says "La metà di quatro È due." Italian always uses "metà" in this way. The word has a plural form ("le metà), which can be used in phrases like "Le due metà della mele sono uguale" (The two halves of the apple are alike), but each half is singular, just as "La metà dei francesi" is singular.
It may help to remember that "metà" also has the sense of "midpoint/half-way-point/middle" which is unequivocally singular in both Italian and English.
Grammatically speaking, "La metà" is the subject of the sentence, and "i francesi" is the object of the preposition "di" (with "di i" contracting to "dei"). The verb "vuole" needs to agree with "La metà".
For folks that are confused with meta vs. mezzo I fond this. http://blogs.transparent.com/italian/meta%E2%80%99-or-mezza/
Actually "la meta" is the subject which in Italian is singular. Not in English, I agree. The subject cannot be part of a prepositional phrase "of the French"
In English the subject is "Half of the French" ie it would be "They/them" if replaced with a preposition of the right case. I appreciate that it might be different in Italian, but I don't understand how this can be applied to other circumstances. Is "Half of" always singular? "dei francesi" is plural!
I'm not sure that in English we would say "half are". That is an intriguing question. If we say "none of them" we would say correctly "is" going. But today many people would say "none of them are going" Strictly speaking that would be wrong but...usage sometimes dictates rules. Now in Italian, "half" is considered singular. The subject is not decided by the "of the French" Thus Italian "La meta dei francesi lo vuole (3rd pers. sing.)
"Not (a single) one of them IS going!" "None of them ARE going!"
It's very subtle, but there is a difference. The first one is clearly about a single member of a group (ie "One of them".)
The second is about the group as a collection of individuals (ie none of (all of) them") .
In the example, even if it were " One half of the French", I would use 'are', because 'the French' is a plural entity. If you were to say "Half of France", that would be an entirely different matter, as France is a singular noun and would take 'is'.
Another case might be if the example was "This (or That) half of the French" because you are then talking about the group as a single object, rather than as a collection of individuals.
Following is an interesting quote from http://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/subjectVerbAgree.asp:
In recent years, the SAT testing service has considered none to be strictly singular. However, according to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage: "Clearly none has been both singular and plural since Old English and still is. The notion that it is singular only is a myth of unknown origin that appears to have arisen in the 19th century. If in context it seems like a singular to you, use a singular verb; if it seems like a plural, use a plural verb. Both are acceptable beyond serious criticism." When none is clearly intended to mean "not one," it is followed by a singular verb.
No, I disagree. The subject is "half of the French", which is plural (they/them) therefore it should take vogliono not vuole.
Half of the French would still be plural. ?? And the verb in the original is plural "want it"
Oops, pressed reply too soon! You would not be able to replace "Half the French" with a singular pronoun and still make sense.
In British English, collective nouns can be either singular or plural, depending on context. "The government has decided" means that there is one view that has been agreed, and that has been announced. "The team were so disorganised" means that the individuals were all over the place and not pulling together. Here "La metà" clearly refers to millions of individuals, so the verb is correctly plural in English.
Is it "probably" or surely? You could also say that "half" is singular in English, yet you use the plural, just like the English sentence inthe example. Is it thus a rule in Italian that "half of a big mass" requires a singular?